Original Article by David Menjor of Liberia’s Daily Observer
The Liberian government may now have all it needs to reengage its American counterpart on the need to allow the repatriation of Dr. Malachi Z. York, as the Criminal Court “B” recently retrieved and reported to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MoFA), through the Garlawolu and Associates Law Offices, all naturalization records on Dr. York.
Contrary to what the Court has found and reported to the MoFA, a diplomatic note said to have come from the U.S. Embassy near Monrovia in 2007, rejected the Liberian government’s request to free and repatriate Dr. York. He was incarcerated on grounds that he is an American citizen, under the name Dwight York at the Bureau of Prisons with Register No. 17911-054, and must serve his astronomical solitary confinement at ADMAX Prison center in the United States.
The diplomatic note, written on the letterhead of the United States Embassy in Monrovia, but which was not signed, said: “York is currently housed at the U.S. Penitentiary in Florence, Colorado. His sentence is expected to be completed in 2119. Mr. York is a citizen of the United States, and his sentence must be served in the United States.” It further said: “As a U.S. citizen, he cannot be deported to Liberia.”
With determined minds, however, a team of lawyers, comprising Wellington Bedell and Joseph Cornormia of the Garlawolu and Associates Law Offices and, lately, Attorney Morris Kaba, have been engaging the Government of Liberia since May 1, 2018, to find a solution to their client’s plight, which they think is inhumane and unjustifiable from all indications.
Their persistence in dialoguing led them to the MoFA from where a request to Criminal Court “B” was made in order to check out records and find, if possible, documents confirming Dr. Malachi York’s Liberian citizenship.
MoFA on June 19, 2018, wrote Cllr. Elizabeth J. Nelson, the Court administrator at the Temple of Justice, requesting her office to find Dr. York’s Liberian citizenship record and submit same to the MoFA for other arrangements and determination on whether the government can act on Dr. York’s case or not.
The letter, signed by Cllr. Dewey Gray, Deputy Minister for Legal Affairs at the MoFA, copy of which is in the possession of the Daily Observer, reads: “I present my compliments and have the honor to forward copies of a certificate of citizenship and an Oath of Allegiance submitted to the MoFA by lawyers representing Dr. Malachi Z. York, who is claiming Liberian citizenship for authentication.”
It further states that, “The authenticity of these documents allegedly issued in 1999 by Criminal Court ‘B’ has become an issue in determining the citizenship of Dr. York, who wants the Government of Liberia to intervene on his behalf with regards to a judgment rendered against him in the United States of America.”
Responding to the MoFA’s request, Judge Korboi K. Nuta of Criminal Court ‘B’ said in a letter signed by him that, “With copies of their (Dr. York’s lawyers in Liberia) files presented us, our staff was asked to search each file to find whether there is a trace of any records presented by us. Our staff reported that with the help of some records provided by the Garlawolu and Associates Law Offices, they were able to locate copies of records in other files which were inadvertently placed there.”
Judge Nuta’s letter, dated August 1, 2018, also confirmed the presence of the Declaration of Intention to naturalize as a Liberian citizen, signed by Dr. York on July 12, 1997. The Declaration of Intention reads: ‘I, DR. MALACHI Z. YORK, ON OATH OR AFFIRMATION DECLARE THAT IT IS MY INTENTION TO SETTLE PERMANENTLY IN THE REPUBLIC OF LIBERIA AND TO BECOME A CITIZEN THEREOF, AND I DO HEREBY DECLARE BY ALLEGIANCE AND FIDELITY TO THE REPUBLIC OF LIBERIA AND RENOUNCE SAME TO ALL FOREIGN OR POWER AND PARTICULARLY TO THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, BEING THE FOREIGN POWER OF WHICH I AM NOW A CITIZEN OR SUBJECT.’ It was then signed by the then CLERK of CRIMINAL COURT ‘B’, Samuel Passawe, as it is stated herein:
This was to successfully fulfill the requirements of the Liberian Law on Naturalization. It also falls under Title 8 of the United States Codes & 1481, Voluntary Loss of Citizenship, which states: “whereas upon an American Citizen pledging allegiance and taking an OATH to a foreign nation is cause for loss of United States citizenship.”